Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 22, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Arrests Reveal Zarqawi Network in Europe - Anton La Guardia (Telegraph-UK)
    A growing number of terrorism investigations in Britain, Germany, Bosnia, Denmark, and most recently Spain and France have thrown new light on a European terrorist network being developed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most prominent insurgent in Iraq.
    Some of the suspected networks appear to be involved only in supporting his operations in Iraq, but counter-terrorism officials are worried that Zarqawi could be planning to start attacking Europe.
    "Zarqawi thinks he is bigger than Iraq," a British source said. "He is spreading his tentacles in Europe. There is a sense that attacks are inevitable."
    American counter-terrorism officials believe that Zarqawi can now count on allies in 40 countries.
    Last month Germany's leading intelligence official, August Henning, said that extremists in Europe increasingly admired Zarqawi and were trying to make contact with his network.

    See also Zarqawi and Israel: Is There a New Jihadi Threat Destabilizing the Eastern Front? - Dore Gold and Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi (ICA/JCPA)

The Arab Drift into Scientific Obscurity - Faisal Sanai (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
    Arabs across the Middle East have become mere patrons of development rather than the pioneers they once were.
    While Muslims account for 20% of the world's population, we possess less than 1% of the scientists.
    The Arab contribution to civilization is perpetually held hostage by thousand-year-old achievements like the innovation of algebra by Al-Khwarizmi, the articulation of the Canon of Medicine by Ibn Sina, or the mathematical and astronomical genius of Omar Al-Khayyam.
    Since then, our contribution to science has produced almost next to nothing.
    Collectively, Arab nations spend only 0.15% of their GDP on research and development, well below the world average of 1.4% and lower than the considerably poorer sub-Saharan Africa.
    According to the UN Development Program report of 2003, 25% of graduates in science, medicine, and engineering emigrate each year from the Arab region.

Meet the New Hamas Mayor of Nablus - Orly Halpern (Jerusalem Post)
    Meet Adli Ya'ish, 53, the mayor-elect of Nablus, whose Hamas list, the Coalition for Change and Reform, won the municipal elections last week by a landslide.
    His family owns the local Mercedes-Benz dealership.

Soaring Egypt-Israel Trade Creates 15,000 New Jobs (AP/Khaleej Times-Dubai)
    Egypt's trade with Israel is expected to rise 130% this year, the result of a U.S.-brokered agreement that has created an estimated 15,000 Egyptian jobs.
    Figures from the Israeli Export Institute show Egyptian-Israeli trade will rise from $58 million in 2004 to a projected $134 million in 2005.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Senators Push to Exclude Hamas from Elections
    Seventy U.S. senators on Wednesday called on President George W. Bush to make it clear to Palestinian leaders that terrorist organizations like Hamas must disarm or be banned from upcoming Palestinian elections. The senators, in a letter to Bush, said the U.S. "would have little choice but to reevaluate all aspects of our relations" with the Palestinian Authority if Hamas was brought into it. The Senate letter follows a resolution passed overwhelmingly last week by the House of Representatives that also urged the exclusion of Hamas from the January 25 parliamentary ballot.
        The senators said they were "deeply disappointed" that Mahmoud Abbas "has yet to do what the Palestinian Authority has committed to doing on numerous occasions - asserting its control over the terrorist groups that operate freely within the West Bank and Gaza." (Reuters)
  • Israel Easing Barrier Burden, But Palestinians Still See a Border - Steven Erlanger
    Israel is overhauling its separation barrier along the West Bank and Jerusalem to cut the crossing time for people and goods from hours to minutes. Aimed at easing the burden on Palestinians and softening international criticism, it is also giving the barrier the feel of an international border. The construction project of 27 terminals will cost close to $500 million and sharply reduce tension, Israeli officials say.
        Daniel Tirza, a reserve colonel who has drawn the map for nearly every inch of the 450-mile barrier (about one-third complete and due to be finished in a year), has no doubt that it has saved hundreds of Israeli lives by making it harder for suicide bombers to reach their targets. The barrier not only discourages attacks, he said, but when, as in most of its length, it consists of electronic fencing with sensors, it provides enough warning to catch those who cut through it. "The barrier does its job," Tirza said, describing the need to protect Jerusalem's citizens from sniper fire and suicide bombers. (New York Times)
  • Navy Diver's Killer Held in Beirut - Nicholas Kralev and Gary Emerling
    The Lebanese killer of U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem was in custody in Beirut Tuesday, according to U.S. officials who decried his release from a German prison last week. Mohammad Ali Hamadi, a member of Hizballah, received a life sentence in Germany for hijacking a TWA plane to Beirut and fatally shooting Stethem, but was paroled after 18 years and freed last week. "We are going to make every effort to see that he stands trial here in the U.S.," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. (Washington Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Five Soldiers Hurt in Palestinian Rocket Attack from Gaza - Hanan Greenberg
    Five IDF soldiers were hurt by shrapnel after a Kassam rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza landed in a military base south of Ashkelon on Thursday. Another rocket fired from Gaza on Thursday landed near the Ashkelon industrial zone. (Ynet News)
  • Rate of Gaza Rocket Fire Unchanged Since Pullout - Nir Hasson
    In the three months since the Israel Defense Forces left Gaza, Kassam rockets have been launched at Israel on an almost daily basis. A total of 239 rockets have been fired at Israel since Sep. 15, according to the Red Dawn warning system which monitors Kassam launches. Of these, only 160 rockets landed in Israel: many fell short, landing inside the Gaza Strip.
        The evacuation of northern Gaza enabled the Palestinians to move their launch sites closer to Israel. Therefore, even without improving the rockets' range, they are able to hit the industrial zone south of Ashkelon. Kassams also have begun to land in other areas of southern Israel that had not experienced rocket fire before the disengagement, such as Moshav Shuba, hit by three rockets - one hit a house, damaging the building and sending residents into shock. The pace of the launches has increased over the last two weeks. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Terrorists Free Two Foreign Teachers Abducted at Gunpoint in Gaza
    The militant Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) organization on Wednesday freed two foreign teachers it kidnapped earlier in the day. Foreigners have been kidnapped on several occasions by gunmen in Gaza, who use the captives to press demands from Palestinian authorities. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • An Iranian Lie - Editorial
    The United States, and many other countries, are condemning remarks made by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad erroneously says that the Holocaust, resulting in the death of six million Jews during World War Two, is a "myth." In October, he said that Israel should be "wiped off the map."
        Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany's foreign minister, says the Iranian president's remarks show "irresponsibility and cynicism....The government in Tehran must understand that the patience of the international community is not endless." Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Russian Federation Council's International Affairs Committee, told a reporter, "The Iranian president's xenophobia discredits the co-sponsors of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, including Russia." Qin Gang, a spokesman for China's foreign ministry, says, "We are not in favor of any remarks detrimental to stability and peace."
        U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, "These comments are certainly reprehensible." The Iranian regime, headed by President Ahmadinejad, "continues to support terrorism. It continues to undermine democracy in its own country." Reflecting the views of the United States Government. (Voice of America)
  • Waiting for the Rapture in Iran - Scott Peterson
    In Jamkaran, Iran, tears stream down the cheeks of 2,000 men ripe for the return of the Mahdi, the 12th Imam they expect will soon emerge to bring justice and peace to a corrupt world. Every issue, from challenging the United States and Israel to enhancing Iran's power with nuclear programs, is designed to lay the foundation for the Mahdi's return. "If I think the Mahdi will come in two, three, or four years, why should I be soft? Now is the time to stand strong, to be hard," says Amir Mohebian, political editor of the conservative Resalat newspaper. "What Ahmadinejad believes is that we have to create a model state based on...Islamic democracy - to be given to the world," says Hamidreza Taraghi, head of the conservative Islamic Coalition Society. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Iran TV Blood Libel: Jewish Rabbis Killed Hundreds of European Children for Passover
    The following discussion with Iranian political analyst Dr. Hasan Hanizadeh aired on Jaam-e Jam 2 TV (Iran) on December 20, 2005:
    Hanizadeh: "Unfortunately, the West has forgotten two horrendous incidents, carried out by the Jews in 19th-century Europe - in Paris and London, to be precise. In 1883, about 150 French children were murdered in a horrible way in the suburbs of Paris, before the Jewish Passover holiday. Later research showed that the Jews had killed them and taken their blood....A similar incident took place in London, when many English children were killed by Jewish rabbis. These two incidents still haunt the minds and souls of the Europeans."
        View the Video Clip (MEMRI)
  • Observations:

    Yasser Abbas - Tom Gross (Wall Street Journal)

    • On the very day that five Israelis were murdered and over 60 injured in a suicide bombing outside a shopping mall in Netanya earlier this month, the official Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas had approved fresh financial assistance to the families of suicide bombers. Altogether, the families of these so-called martyrs and of those wounded in terrorist attempts or held in Israeli jails might receive $100 million.
    • For over a year now, since Abbas succeeded Arafat, many in the West have done their utmost to "explain" or ignore Abbas's failings. His outright refusal to confront and disarm terrorists, in violation of the Road Map, hardly registers anymore in the Western media. However, the media also give very little idea of the extent to which the PA continues to glorify terrorists.
    • This month, the PA renamed the Rafah border crossing "in honor of Shahid (martyr) Al-Agha," who murdered five Israelis in a suicide bombing there in December 2004. There is the soccer tournament named in honor of the terrorist who murdered 30 people at a Passover celebration in Netanya, and a girls' high school named by the PA Ministry of Education after a female terrorist who murdered 36 Israeli civilians. A poetry collection published by the PA Ministry of Culture honors "the Rose of Palestine," a suicide terrorist who killed 21 at a restaurant in Haifa.
    • Until Palestinian attitudes change, the Israelis have no choice but to put considerations of security first.

          See also Irrelevant Abbas - Dan Schueftan
      The recent local elections in the West Bank prove once again just how fallacious claims are about chances for an agreement with the Palestinians. The writer is assistant director of the Center for National Security Research at Haifa University. (Ynet News)

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